Prospect Mailbag: 2019 Crop, Makar vs Boqvist/Hughes, & Skill vs. Opportunity

Cam Robinson



Question: “Who are your top 10 players for the 2019 NHL Draft?”



Answer: I won’t be focusing on the 2019 crop until mid-summer so it's too soon for a definitive ranking yet. That said, there are a handful of players who have the early markers of a top 10 selection.


Anytime we discuss the 2019 crop, the discussion for the top billing begins and ends with Jack Hughes.


Hughes is a splendid talent that mixes elite speed, edge work, vision and hockey IQ to feast on oppositions. He’s the most prolific scoring U17 player in USNTDP history while playing over half his games with the U18 squad. The list of players he usurped includes Auston Matthews, Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel and Clayton Keller.


It’s difficult to imagine someone knocking him out of that spot.






The next wave consists of some highly talented centres in the form of Raphael Lavoie, Kirby Dach, Dylan Cozens and Alex Turcotte.


On the back end, Vancouver Giants defender, Bowen Byram leads the charge at this point followed by Euros, Anttoni Honka, Artemi Knyazev, and Nikita Okhotyuk.


The wings aren’t shy on talent either, headed up by Finnish phenom Kaapo Kakko. Kakko is in the midst of a terrific U18 tournament, destroyed the Finnish U20 circuit and even got a sniff of Liiga action as a 16-year-old.


He looks every bit the top five talent he’s been pegged as for some time.


Behind him lay players such as Maxim Čajkovič (the surprise point leader at the U18’s), Alex Newhook, Nolan Foote, Arthur Kaliyev and Peyton Krebs.


That’s a lot more than 10 players but all have the ability to contend for that lofty distinction. 2019 is shaping up to be a strong crop and feature players from an array of positions to help fill many organization’s main needs.





Question: “Who's the most underrated prospect in this year's draft and why is it Nils Lundkvist?”



Answer: Ah, good old Nils Lunkqvist. The smooth-skating, right-shot offensive defender hadn’t received a sniff of first-round consideration for much of the season. This, despite playing a sizable role in the SHL as a draft-eligible player. Instead, it was his Five Nation’s tournament that seemed to move the needle.


With several services now ranking him in the first round, I’m actually going to remove his ‘most underrated’ badge and hand it over to Jonatan Berggren.


Berggren is one of my favourite players in this crop. It's mind blowing that many major services still have him as far down as the third round. The feisty winger produced tremendous results in the Swedish J20 SuperElit circuit.


His 57 points in 38 games were equal or greater than names such as Anze Koptiar, William Nylander, Carl Hagelin, Lars Eller, William Karlsson, Jonathan Dahlen, Mikkel Boedker, Elias Lindholm, and Gus Nyquist.


Berggren is a buzz-saw of a player who plays with speed, tenac